ATLANTA, Ga. – While many of the nation’s Division I track & field programs are entrenched in conference championship action this weekend, the Florida State men and women will try and secure or protect NCAA East Preliminary qualifying marks at the Georgia Tech Invitational.
This is the last weekend of competition to earn a spot into the postseason, which requires posting one of the top 48 individual event marks or top 24 relay times. Those that do will advance to the NCAA East Preliminary round at the University of North Florida, May 28-31.
Though the majority of Seminoles have already secured their spots, a handful will chase goals and dreams one final time at the George C. Griffin Track on the Georgia Tech campus. Competition begins Friday at 12 noon with the hammer throw and concludes Saturday evening with the traditional 4x400 replay finale.
FSU coach Bob Braman succinctly summed up the opportunity at hand.
“It’s protecting and qualifying,” Braman said. “For the elite athletes it’s trying to get your momentum going in the right way … and take more of that national approach. For those with regional level marks, we need national level marks.
“All of the bubble and protection people can’t assume anything.”
There will be plenty of familiar faces, in similar situations, to provide competition. The meet features a heavy dose of ACC athletes, who will be joined by representatives from the Southern, MEAC, Sun Belt, Colonial, SWAC, Conference USA and Big South conferences, in addition to BYU.
Friday’s competition will feature a number of Seminoles still chasing East Preliminary standards, including sophomore Zak Seddon, who qualified for the NCAA Championship meet as a freshman in the steeplechase. Seddon is currently ranked 58th in the East and will likely need to pare five seconds of his season-best time to be assured an opportunity for a return trip.
“Zak has got to run sub-9 (minutes) and I think he’s got a good shot,” Braman said. “It’s a really good qualifying race field.”
Junior Briana Cherry-Bronson is in a similar situation, as she enters Friday’s hammer throw ranked 57th and theoretically should be able to move into the top 48 by improving her season-best mark by a little more than one meter.
Two Seminole freshmen – shot putters Austin Droogsma and Chadrick DaCosta – enter Friday night’s competition ranked Nos. 48 and 64 respectively. In Droogsma’s case, only a modest improvement on his season-best throw from a week ago will be good enough to extend his season. DaCosta, who is a virtual lock to qualify in the discus, must make greater gains in the shot put.
Friday’s competition will also feature a handful of Seminoles well-positioned to make runs at the NCAA Championship meet – and All-American honors – including Dentarius Locke (100), Anne Zagre (100 hurdles) and long jumpers Paul Madzivire and Jalen Ramsey.
One of the primary weekend goals for the Seminoles will be shoring up the men’s and women’s 4x100 relay teams.
“The 4x1s are going to be a key event,” Braman said. “We’ve got good pieces and we’re healthy now. We’ve got to run them well.”
More than anything, Braman would like to see both teams compete as well as they did last week at the Seminole Twilight, when the men and women combined to claim 15 event wins and post a handful of qualifying standards.
You can follow the action throughout the weekend via Twitter @FSU_Track or through the live results here: http://results.deltatiming.com/tf/2014-georgia-tech-invitational#.U3VzsXa9ZPd
A complete recap at the conclusion of each day will be posted at www.seminoles.com